GF-TADs and Rinderpest

Rinderpest is the first animal disease, and only the second infectious disease, after smallpox for humans, to have been eradicated globally thanks to decades of internationally concerted effort.

This highly contagious disease, also called cattle plague or steppe murrain, had been a scourge for centuries and killed millions of animals, including cattle, buffaloes, yaks and many other domesticated and wild even-toed ungulates. Rinderpest caused significant disruption and damage to agricultural supply chains throughout the world. The costs of eradication of rinderpest was billions of dollars, with decades of multi-national eradication campaigns and renewed efforts of national veterinary services and livestock owners to curb its resurgence, and finally, to declare it as eradicated in 2011

While the disease no longer occurs in livestock, rinderpest virus-containing material (RVCM) is still being stored in a few countries around the world. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) have designated highly secured facilities known as the Rinderpest Holding Facilities (RHF) to hold the virus but not allowed to manipulate it without a permission from FAO and OIE.  A few countries still hold RVCM in unapproved laboratories that are highly encourage to destroy it or transfer to RHF, considering the high risk of inadvertent or malicious release to the susceptible animal populations (can we link sops). 

The Members of the FAO and the OIE have given the two organizations the mandate to safeguard world freedom from rinderpest by destroying or sequestrating RVCM in highly secure FAO-OIE approved RHF. An up-to-date list of FAO-OIE designated Rinderpest Holding Facilities can be found on the FAO rinderpest website and on the OIE rinderpest website

On request of their membership, FAO and the OIE have formed a Joint Advisory Committee (JAC) for rinderpest made up of seven highly qualified individuals. The JAC provides guidance to the Directors General of both organizations for, among others, the approval of rinderpest research proposals and highly secured holding facilities responsible for safeguarding the virus. 

Disease surveillance to support early warning is another critical component of the post-rinderpest eradication activities. FAO and OIE are working actively to strengthen national, regional, and global surveillance networks to rapidly detect, confirm and respond to any suspicion of rinderpest. Efforts also focus on improving global capacities through rumour tracking and prompt verification. Rinderpest-related surveillance activities are conducted under the existing joint FAO–OIE–WHO Global Early Warning System (GLEWS) located at FAO Headquarters in Rome. The FAO and OIE Reference Laboratories for rinderpest are central pillars in the post-eradication era as they are in charge of maintaining diagnostic capacity and expertise. 


Samia Metwally
Senior Animal Health Officer (Virology)
[email protected] 

Mariana Marrana
Chargée de mission, Preparedness and Resilience Department
[email protected]